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Better Ways! SEO Techniques Clinic

Better Ways
Keyword research. Link building. Page titles. Yawn. You know the fundamentals of SEO cold. Still, no one knows everything. Been wondering if there”s a better way to get something done? Put it to our panel of experts!

Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land


Alex Bennert, Director of Client Services, Beyond Ink

Greg Boser, Search Engine Marketing Consultant, WebGuerrilla

Jim Boykin, CEO, We Build Pages

Christine Churchill, President, Key Relevance

Todd Friesen, Director of Search Engine Optimization,

Cameron Olthuis, Director of Marketing and Design, ACS

Aaron Wall, Author, SEO Book

Better ways to do boring SEO stuff. This will be an audience participation session. There are no presentations, just discussion.

What are we stumped with? What puzzles us? What do we need help with?

Panel introduces themselves.

Q: We see great results with SMM with smaller clients. Bigger clients are hesitant. We went through six months with a big client to show there is value. Do you have any ideas how to convince clients to get into the social media space?

Cameron: We run into the same things. Many big companies are slow to understand. Lots of education and reinforcement. Reputation management will be watched closely. Run into the same problems.

Aaron: Find a brand evangelist talking positively, ask for feedback. Less of corporate infrusture.

Greg: It”s slow and takes alot of meetings. One client has so many meetings, he doesn”t know how they get work done.

Christine: Once client is a subsidiary of a big company. Couldn”t get it through legal. Tough to launch the corporate blog. It”s a community of caregivers, and don”t have to worry about legal stuff because just sponsoring it.

Q: How do you scale linkbait or backlinks. Time consuming. Tricks or tactics to get it on a mass scale or regularly without doing much? Audience laughts.

Aaron: I found effective key ideas in the related search areas. Find the non commercial areas. Write about those. The lazy way to is to buy expensive high quality content. Run ad campaign on Google to get it spread.

Christine: If you are an authority in an industry, can give out awards which are great and have longevity. Try to look at long term link building.

Todd: Different approach. Lots of interns to do what they are told. Great way to do directory submissions. Go out and buy them! Does alot of link buying. Think of it as relevant media buying. Another thing is widget building. Embedd keywords in the widgets.

Jim: No pain no gain approach. Do it by hand. Send personalized emails. Needs the human personalized touch. Need to offer value – link bait, good content, cash, its a manually process.

Alex: Build it into a different part of the business. Incentives to give links – pay less referrel fees.

Cameron: Empower brand evangelists. Give them content and have them take the ball and create viral link bait for you.

Danny: File a copywrite suit, get it on Digg. Has negative aspects.

Alex: Client is going to get sued. Spending all the budget on PR to manage that. Will get lots of links that way.

Q: Has anyone have a way of lobbying to lots of social network groups quickly. It takes a long time.

Danny: Just to log into them?

Cameron: Doesn”t know away. Anything worth doing needs time.

Todd: Roboform works well.

Danny: Firefox session manager works well.

Aaron: It”s now built into Firefox.

Danny: Can set up all the pages you want to load when opening browser. I thought you meant how to get 2000 friends in Twittr.

Christine: Put login scripts on Toolbar.

Q: Developing an accurate keyword research tool. They all suck.

Todd: Microsoft has an incredible keyword research tool. Launched in past couple weeks. Fantstic tool. Called Adlabs.

Christine: Source – meta search engines and ISPs. Throw out many wierd queries. Keyword discovery used to take data from ISPs. Now they take from toolbars.

Alex: It”s all about how relativite, not about the search numbers.

Greg: The relationships of words pan out accurately, even though numbers are off. Relationship between phrase A and B is accurate.

Alex: Once you rank for something, your referall data is as real as it gets.

Christine: PPC is a good way to measure.

Danny: Are the predictions off, that the problem? Polls audience on tools.

Christine: I use all of them.

Danny: Google sandbox tool? Overture tool?

Christine: Good for brainstorming.

Danny: I tried to get the engines to provide all the data for free, they did and then shut it down. But it is paying off for Adcenter.

Q: Question is about linkbait. In the beginning you put an icon to Digg. Tried Social networks are too many. How many icons to put on a page?

Cameron: Prefers not to include them, except for exceptions. Alot of times you”ll get bad stories submitted to Digg and see poor content, they may associate it will spam. No more than two or 3. Digg, Delicious or the relevant to user base.

Q: How do you explain to a corporate client that you will get lots of links from social media sites – that are irrelevant – how do you explain it to those that dont get it.

Cameron: Many times the links are relevant. Topics generally stay pretty focused. Most likely you will get relevant traffic. The irrelevant wont hurt you.

Aaron: If your piece is targetted, you”ll get the right links.

Todd: Definition of viral marketing is that it will spread thru your group of interested. Ultimately the vast majority of links will be targetted. It”s different than buying many irrelevant links.

Christine: Balance link building. Don”t want all from SMM networks. Want variety – PR, directories, content development, business relationship links, professional organizations.

Greg: They are seperate activities. Linkbaiting is good but wont help you rank for targetted terms many times. No control of anchor text and how people link to you. Still need to go out and get focused targeted links.

Cameron: Agrees. Cant control anchor text off community. Can influence it by coming up with proper titles and descriptions.

Q: How many targetted links would you go after a month and not get in trouble?

Aaron: All relative to the size of your site and the field your playing in. The footprint is important. A good PR campaign won”t hurt. Its about risk and reward.

Q: Lets say they are under control.

Greg: We look at who is dominant in the space. If they are 12 years old and have 250 links – the rate of growth must be consistent not to stand out like a sore thumb. Level of trust is important. Can get lots of crappy links for old site. New sites won”t be the same.

Jim: Many are concerned with a number. I found through my experience it”s not a numbers game, its a quality game as well. If a link from a subpage has 1000 backlinks its worth alot more than a links page. Good links.

Todd: Backs up Greg. Back in the day he worked for Dental Plans. Didn”t research competitive landscape. Got 65,000 links one week. Got booted quickly, because the top player had 3000 links. Matt emailed him!

Q: Topic of getting large companies to make the shift to SMM. I want to go under the hood into a couple areas of challenges I”m finding in a large company. Editorial writing they are locked into an old AP style of writing and not SEO friendly, and graphics designers want to build cool flash sites that are not friendly. Do you have any success stories changed the ship?

Todd: We have lots of fortune 500 luxury brands that are brand conscious. Without the pictures it would be hard to understand. WE have to explain how search engines work and that they need to understand what the pages are about. Once they compute that, and it clicks, the key is not to rewrite everything. Make it simple and low maintenance and as simple as possible. They are looking at the how and who is going to do it. Many times companies will ignore SEO recommendations because of lack of resources.

Greg: If they give you grief, fire them. Somebody else will get it and I rather work for them. Lawyers ruin everything, send contracts back with red ink. I don”t do fortune 500″s because I wont work with clients unless I can win. I like the challenge of performing. Say thanks, but no.

Alex: Danny once wrote an article about designers and cross platform compatibility. Treat the bot like a browser. Must work across platforms.

Christine: Clients often have to learn by being burned. Pleaded with president with a flash redesign. Make sure you have lots of PPC money so you can get traffic otherwise the site will go away. Document, so you can say “told you so”. Many clients are more flexible on the landing pages and let me tweak text there. Prove quantitaviely and show numbers.

Todd: We have clients will 100% flash, even shopping carts. There is no way they will change it. They spend millions and conveys the brand image. We step in and build an HTML version, and useragent deliver it. Cloak it, but dont over optimize – the same page but the user experience is preserved. Doesn”t look the same but same content. Good use of user agent detecting.

Greg: We used cloaking to prove our case with big clients. We cant always tell cleint to scrap a multi million dollar page. I come in say and build a bot version of the model, cloak it, and when it kicks ass in search results – they believe in it. Same content but better flow and more optimized. Easier to sell that as the initial step, for alot less. When it came time for annual redesign – I got to sit down and show how well it worked.

Danny: Wrote an article called “This boring headline was built for Google”. The journalists called the Tsuananmi “giant wave”. Simmonds at the NYT told them people search for Tsuanami, not giant wave! Also, people will content behind wall. 25% of newspaper visits come from search engines. Newspapers are suing Google, and also getting lots of free traffic. Really learning how to change writing for search. When someone doesn”t get it. Everyone uses a search engine. 99.9% of web users use search engines. They see websites in a different manner. You are losing 100% visibility. They are the biggest browser – bigger than IE, Firefox, and Safari designed. Todd wrote an article about the hard things done as an SEO to make things visible. Talks about Flash, and search engines won”t get it. They still haven”t supported flash after 10 years. Nothing to support. Even if they can extract the text, meaningless. Imagine you created a great TV commercial. No sound. All you see is a car zooming. Take that television commercial and try to put it on the radio.

Comment: Follow up on the question. Tried training journalists. Never mention SEO. Writing for people that use search engines, not the search engines themselves.

Q: I was wondering how relevant is Page freshness. We optimize pages, and see crappy content pages ranking above. Is there a fomula how often to reoptimize a page? What do we do when we have to refresh pages?

Aaron: What happens is that new pages are featured prominentantly in the navigation structure. With your site, you need to focus on link equity. If you have seasonal products, put more link weight on it. See how often Google puts news in organic results. They see it as fresh.

Jim: Google will often try to feed in a fresh page to test it. Many not last through time. Many hear that content needs to be fresh. If you wrote a great page in 1996, and many have been linking over the years, and you decide to change the content. SE will see those old links as less valuable, and new links will have more value. Alot of good pages that stayed the same for years and don”t need to change.

So your saying that if you optimized it, leave it alone?

Christine: What makes you think its freshness. Are you checking backlinks?

Yes on Google.

Todd: We did a site audit, Google said 8, Yaho said a couple hundred thousand. Danny was talking about Calacanis and SEO saying bullshit and that its a one time deal and should be expensive. Not the case. Google is constantly refining the algo, and it could be the that thats the day things changed.

Greg: Check header responses. Most dynamic sites – Google supports last modified. They dont want to recrawl content. We used to forge the modified date because they are big on freshness. We dont know if that ever heald. Might not be a freshness issue.

Christine: I have pages ranking for 8 years on competitive terms and haven”t touched them.

Danny: A recent article in the NYT about the Google algo. They new they would have some queries they want a fresh page for. So put together a query on what should serve a fresh page – like off a blog. It might be interesting to try a backlink check on Google blog search. I usually see fresh news come up. Check out those articles.

Q: Do you have tips for retialers for Google base results to put above spot one?

Todd: We do alot of feeds, but that dude didn”t come to the conference.

Danny: Anyone solidly using Google base?

Audience: Real estate. Froogle doesnt do much.

Danny: I dont use base much. I can tell you that they are eliminating data. But if you have database information feed it to base because they”ll take it. They are not subsitituting base for organic, but crawling base and mix up results. Lots of ways to take content – sitemaps, base, etc. They just took in alot of real estate data. You know there will be Google real estate soon, or classifieds soon down the line.

Q: Google base. We have a realtor. If you use the MLS to update the feed. We see competitors who scrape the MLS. Do you have recommendations for playing on an even playing field.

Greg: The playing field is never even. Google gets lot of duplication from MLS. Everyone submitting same content. I heard they are only taking it from brokerages. Might clean up the spamming and jamming.

We should just wait for them to address it?

Greg: In a perfect world the guidelines will be enforced and policed. Guidelines say dont do it but dont have the manpower to go after the cheaters to clean it up. Those that understand that push the envelope, and you have to see if you want to compete or whine. The reaon estate space is spammy. Lots of stuff going on there.

Todd: A year ago, Tim Mayer from Yahoo talked about spam. The pills, mortgages, real estate. Don”t take a sword to a gun fight.

Cameron: I mentioned to my programmer and he build a database for 200 properties in Aspen. They are going in the one box.

Danny: Are you up on Universal search? Searches Madonna. The music one box comes up. Then you get Wikipedia, then a news box. Now the news box can be put anywhere they want. Mixing things together. Queries – “new york dental schools”. Counts . Local replaces the first 3 search results. If you just focused on organic and ignored local, and had the #1 ranking -you got wiped out. This dramatic. Personized and Universal are huge. If just doing web search, life is changing. Ask has a different approach. The story to take away, is to pay attention to Google news, Google local – so easy, just send a postcard. Google book search. Product search, base. You got to watch the verticals. Video optimzation is like meta data. It”s like 1997.

Q: Do you have a favorite tool to share?

Jim: Project mayhem is.

Todd: We use lots of external tools – Search Status is an awesome firefox extention. Fantastic. And the web dev toolbar. One click away from viewing everything. When we do a site audit, the toolbar helps us grabs the screen shot.

Cameron: We developed a cool tool A reputation management tool. A social media meta search engine.

Jim: Top 10 Analyis tool. Type in phrase, and shows top tool. On

Todd: Aaron”s SEO for firefox is a great extention. Get tons of info under each search result, in the page. See all the factors on the SERPs. An old school tool we use is Xenu Linkslueth. Maps out directory and titles.

Alex: Xenu is cool for exporting the entire crawl and gives you levels deep, page sizes, errors.

Todd: Can crawl 100 sites at once – competitors.

Danny: I love firefox because you can go through many search engines and not be stuck in many. Another great tool is Grew for searching multiple search engines. Thanks for coming!

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